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Oyler: Taking in a California expedition

| Thursday, July 5, 2018, 11:48 a.m.

I have just returned from an interesting experience, a trip to “a different world.”

My son John and his family were spending a few weeks in northern California while he conducted business at his company's office in San Mateo, Calif.

I hadn't seen them since Christmas and was glad to have the opportunity to fly out there to visit them.

Lai An has just celebrated her fifth birthday and, like all grandchildren, is remarkably precocious. She is equally fluent in English and Chinese and moves back and forth between them seamlessly.

When the family is travelling, John and Victoria do a fine job of involving her in local activities. This week she was enrolled in a day camp that took the children to Foothills Park, a lovely spot high above Palo Alto, where the children engaged in group activities.

We had no difficulty finding things to do in the evenings. Twice we went to dinner at Chinese restaurants in San Mateo, providing the rest of the family the opportunity to demonstrate their dexterity with chopsticks in contrast to my fumbling. Firm meatballs are the biggest challenge, especially for a mathematician who knows full well it requires three points to define a circle. Two chopsticks and one sphere spell instability in any language.

One evening we went to the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto — a wonderful experience for any movie fan. They specialize in old movies, presented in an old-fashioned environment. Before the feature begins, an organ rises out of the basement, with a gray-haired gentleman playing appropriate music.

The film we saw was “Singing in the Rain.”

After a medley of other songs, the organist went into the theme song for the film and was rewarded with considerable applause. The crowd in the theater was quite enthusiastic during the showing of the film.

The climate in this area is wonderfully moderate – cool nights and warm days.

When you combine it with the abundance of water, the result is a marvelous environment for growing a wide variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Palo Alto is full of majestic redwoods. In fact, the city is named for El Palo Alto (the tall tree), a historic redwood in a public park.

My collection of trite expressions that continue to be relevant includes “nice place to visit, but I still prefer home”.

John Oyler is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He can be reached at 412-343-1652 or Read more from him at

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